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Blackson v. City of New York

United States District Court, S.D. New York

December 2, 2014



VALERIE CAPRONI, District Judge.

Pro se Plaintiff Tyrone Blackson brings claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that Correction Officers Faulkner, Rafferty, Ortiz[1] and Dubois, Captain Levy and Warden Rose Agro[2] violated his constitutional rights while Plaintiff was incarcerated at the Anna M. Kross Center ("AMKC"), a jail operated by the New York City Department of Correction ("DOC") on Rikers Island. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated his rights by detaining him in the intake area of AMKC for between three-and-a-half and four-and-a-half days under conditions that caused him back pain, nerve pain and mental distress. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages in the amount of $50, 000.00. Defendant moves to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Because Plaintiff did not file a timely opposition or amended complaint after his opportunity to do so was extended by three months pursuant to the Court's Order of September 17, 2014, the Court considers Defendants' Motion to Dismiss fullybriefed. For the following reasons, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED and Plaintiff's claims are dismissed without prejudice and with leave to replead.


Plaintiff alleges that he was detained alongside previously-housed inmates in a holding area of AMKC from approximately 11:00 p.m. on November 18 or 19, 2013[3] until approximately 9 a.m. on November 23, 2013, apart from a brief departure for a court appearance. Compl. at ECF pp. 2, 8. Plaintiff asserts that this three-and-a-half or four-and-a-half day detention violated DOC rules requiring that new admissions be housed within twenty-four hours of arraignment and held separately from "house detainees." Id. at 4, 6-8. According to Plaintiff, the holding area where he was detained was "very overcrowded, " such that there was not enough space for Plaintiff and the other detainees to lie down and sleep. Id. at 6. The holding cells were "dirty and stinking" and were "not mop[ped] or swe[pt]." Id. at 8. Moreover, despite Plaintiff's request, he and the other detainees were not permitted to shower. Id. at 9. Plaintiff further alleges that he was fed "only a sandwich for lunch and dinner." Id. at 7. As a result of these conditions, fights broke out among the detainees and some of them were injured. Id. Plaintiff was not injured during these fights but asserts that he felt "scared for [his] life" as a result of the fights. Id. at 8.

Plaintiff alleges that he suffered various injuries as a result of his initial detention at AMKC, including back pain from laying on the ground, a recurrence of his sciatic nerve condition and mental distress. Id. at 3, 7. When Plaintiff asked for medical care, he was told by unnamed officials that he would have to wait to receive medical care and that there was a long waiting list. Id. at 7. As a result, Plaintiff did not receive any medication or other treatment for his back pain, nerve condition and stress disorder. Id. at 3, 7-8.

When Plaintiff reported his concerns to Captain Levy and Correction Officer Faulkner, "they just didn't care at all." Id. at 8. Other unidentified officers threatened him and the other inmates and said they should "shut the hell up or [they] would stay in the holding pens for even longer." Id.


In reviewing a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court must accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. N.J. Carpenters Health Fund v. Royal Bank of Scotland Grp., PLC, 709 F.3d 109, 119 (2d Cir. 2013). In addition, a pro se complaint should be examined with "special solicitude, " Hill v. Curcione, 657 F.3d 116, 122 (2d Cir. 2011), and should be "construed liberally and interpreted to raise the strongest arguments that [it] suggest[s].'" Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 474 (2d Cir. 2006) (quoting Pabon v. Wright, 459 F.3d 241, 248 (2d Cir. 2006)).

Although Defendant's Motion to Dismiss is unopposed, the Court is still required to analyze the sufficiency of Plaintiff's complaint. Haas v. Commerce Bank, 497 F.Supp.2d 563, 564 (S.D.N.Y.2007) (citing McCall v. Pataki, 232 F.3d 321, 322 (2d Cir.2000)). On a motion to dismiss, the Court must assess whether the complaint "contain[s] sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Nielsen v. Rabin, 746 F.3d 58, 62 (2d Cir.2014) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). Despite the leniency granted to pro se Plaintiffs, a complaint cannot withstand a motion to dismiss unless it contains factual allegations sufficient to raise a "right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007).

To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiff must show that, while acting under color of state law, Defendants deprived him of a federal constitutional or statutory right. See McKithen v. Brown, 481 F.3d 89, 99 (2d Cir. 2007). In addition, to state a claim for damages, Plaintiff must allege "sufficient facts to demonstrate that [D]efendants were personally or directly involved in the alleged violation." Harris v. Westchester Cnty. Dep't of Corr., No. 06 CIV. 2011 (RJS), 2008 WL 953616, at *9 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 3, 2008) (citing Provost v. City of Newburgh, 262 F.3d 146, 155 (2d Cir.2001)); see also Colon v. Coughlin, 58 F.3d 865, 873 (2d Cir. 1995) ("personal involvement of defendants in alleged constitutional deprivations is a prerequisite to an award of damages under [Section] 1983" (internal quotation marks omitted)).

A. Plaintiff Fails to Allege Personal Involvement as to Defendants Agro, Rafferty and DuBois

Plaintiff fails to allege that Defendants Agro, Rafferty and DuBois personally engaged in any unconstitutional conduct. Indeed, apart from naming them as Defendants, Plaintiff makes no specific allegations about them at all. When a plaintiff fails to allege how a particular defendant was personally involved in any of the actions or inactions that purportedly led to the violation of the plaintiff's constitutional or federal rights, dismissal is warranted. See Grullon v. City of New Haven, 720 F.3d 133, 139 (2d Cir. 2013). Therefore, Plaintiff's claims against Defendants Agro, Rafferty and DuBois are dismissed.

B. Plaintiff Fails to Plead a Constitutional Violation Against Defendants Faulkner and Levy

As to the remaining two Defendants, Faulkner and Levy, Plaintiff fails to allege misconduct rising to the level of a constitutional violation. Although Plaintiff does not identify a specific constitutional violation, his allegations regarding the conditions of his confinement at AMKC and the lack of medical care he received there are most aptly construed as claims of deliberate indifference in violation of Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment rights.[4] To establish a constitutional claim for deliberate indifference, Plaintiff must first show that he had an objectively "serious" condition, and second that Defendants responded to this condition with "deliberate indifference." Caiozzo v. Koreman, 581 F.3d 63, 72 (2d Cir. 2009) (citing Cuoco v. ...

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